UN envoy says Libya talks must end in 2 weeks

AP News
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Posted: Aug 28, 2015 9:21 AM

SKHIRAT, Morocco (AP) — Talks to form a national unity government in Libya moved forward Friday without one of the main negotiating partners as the U.N. envoy said an agreement must be reached in the next two weeks.

Bernardino Leon said the parties would reconvene next Thursday in Geneva and present their candidates for the prime minister and two deputies to lead the national unity government and get the war-torn country out of its crisis.

The Tripoli-based government — one of two running the country — did not attend the talks because high-profile resignations required a new negotiating team.

Participants described major splits in the Tripoli camp between hardliners and those seeking a more conciliatory approach.

"Next Thursday the names will be presented and the process for selecting the prime minister and the deputies will start," said Libyan lawmaker Mustapha Abou Shagour, a member of the internationally-recognized Tobruk-based parliament. "The trend inside the (Tripoli-based) General National Congress, from the votes we have seen, the majority would like to be part of the dialogue and they want to participate."

Split between governments in the east and west of the country, Libya is also the scene of constant fighting between rival militias, which has allowed the Islamic State group to gain a foothold.

In addition to fears of Libya exporting terror and chaos to the region, it has become the main jumping off point for waves of migrants trying to reach European shores.

Leon emphasized the urgency of resolving the crisis within the next two weeks before the U.N. mandate expires.

"We have to finalize our work in the coming two weeks," he said. "We have to finish this and we have to finish it now."

He said it was in Tripoli's interest to attend the next round of talks so that they could put forward their candidates to lead the next government.

"If someone doesn't bring their names, it means the names discussed will be from the others," he said.

Even if all parties agree to the national unity government it is not clear if the armed groups, including the national army will recognize its authority.